EU officials to get cheap flights and free bikes

Cheap Ryanair flights and free bikes to get around Dublin will be on offer to visiting officials to keep down the cost of Ireland’s EU presidency.

A Government source has confirmed it has come up with a special deal with Ryanair to keep down the cost of air travel, but could not comment on whether this would save the €1.5m as stated by the airline.

Ryanair issued a statement yesterday saying the Government accepted its offer of a guaranteed low-fare deal on flights between Brussels and Dublin for the six-month duration of the presidency.

All flights will cost €49.99 for all politicians, officials, and diplomats flying between the EU capital and Dublin, it said.

The airline said its deal also includes a presidency helpline, free flight changes, and a dedicated assistance desks at both Dublin and Brussels Charleroi airports.

“Ryanair recently met with Ireland’s national procurement office to manage the Government’s travel during the Presidency and they have accepted Ryanair’s offer, which will deliver the first ‘low-fare’ EU presidency, if Ryanair’s low fares on these flights are used by these officials,” the airline said in a statement.

Government sources confirmed a deal had been reached but could not comment on the specifics.

Top brass European delegates will also get free passes for Dublin’s rental bikes for travelling to major events during the presidency.

Senior political figures such as European Council president Herman Van Rompuy could be among those given the special offer.

Lucinda Creighton, the European affairs minister, said this was just one of a number of efforts to ensure value for money and sustainability.

“Delegates will be staying close to the city centre which will give them the opportunity to avail themselves of free access to Dublin Bikes,” Ms Creighton said.

“The proximity to the city will also allow visitors to experience Dublin city and I hope that most will avail themselves of that opportunity.”

Other belt-tightening measures will see tap water used instead of bottled water at meetings and a strict cutback in stationery and mementoes.

The majority of presidency-related events will take place at Dublin Castle, which will serve as headquarters.

All other venues that will be used are State-owned and operated by the Office of Public Works. Farmleigh will also be used.

Organisers have also tried to ensure the six-month term is as paperless as possible — both to save money and reduce the presidency’s carbon footprint.

Video-conferencing between Dublin and Brussels in the run-up to the term, which begins on Jan 1, has seen a reduction in files and documents.

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